The cover inset art was done a year ago, and the principal art and story was done five years ago. It was the bonus story which hung us up, and a lot of things went wrong during 2019 and 2020 (including the flooding of my office, and several productivity-impacting health problems), but we finally got that last piece finished a week and a half ago.
From there all I needed to do was assemble the cover, with all the circuits and stuff, write the back cover copy, and clean up some of the interior marginalia. I did all that last week, between December 28th and 30th, and then Sandra assembled the final files for the printer and sent it away.
It feels nice to be finished with that.
Sandra has promised me that on Monday she will unearth the sketches I’ve forgotten about drawing, the ones which outline the covers for books 17 through 20, and I guess it was nice having a two day vacation.
Maybe I’m putting too fine a point on this, but holiday shipping is going to be a mess this year. There are a lot of factors at work, but let’s just set aside the “why” and talk about how to get ahead of it.
Shop Early. If you’ve got online shopping to do, start now. And if you’ve got online shopping to do with us, we’re encouraging your early start by running a sale during October.
And if you’re supporting us on Patreon, look for a special coupon over there, just for you.
In mostly unrelated news, the sabbatical projects are coming along nicely. I’m learning to draw digitally, and we’re making good progress on the very, very behind schedule print project for Big Dumb Objects.
Will the next Schlock Mercenary feature be created digitally? Maybe! I’m not ready to commit to anything yet, because there are still so many things I don’t know how to do.
My friends at TypeCastRPG¹ are hosting a streaming AMA with me at 9pm Eastern on July 28th. You can post questions into the chatroom, so if you’ve ever wanted to ask me something, this is your opportunity.
With this most recent update, Schlock Mercenary has run for twenty years.
Daily, with no missed updates, no re-runs, and no guest strips… From June 12th of 2000 to June 11th of 2020, that’s twenty full years. (The twentieth anniversary will be on June 12th, because math.)
The strip has come a long way in twenty years. I’ve gotten a bit better at this thing, and although “keeping it fresh” has always been my goal, I will admit to reusing a punchline or two across the decades.
But Schlock Mercenary isn’t all me. Since the very beginning, Sandra Tayler has been my alpha reader, and since 2006 she’s also been the editor and publisher.
Oh, and do you see that second sig in the June 11th strip? Travis Walton has been the Schlock Mercenary colorist for more than half of the strip’s life, and he’s a big part of why it got better while still maintaining the schedule.
When I first dreamed this thing up, I knew I was writing the comic strip I wanted to read. It’s changed a lot over the years (no surprise, as I’ve changed a lot), but after all this time I’m still the strip’s biggest fan.
I could write at great length about why that is, but for now I’ll just leave it at this: thank you for making it possible for us—me, Sandra, and Travis—to have jobs making comics. I might be the strip’s most obsessed, all-consumed-by-Schlock-Mercenary fan, but my love for it isn’t what actually pays the bills.